Ellen Goodman and Those Creationists

By Wayne Jackson

Some folks have something to say; others have to say something. Ellen Goodman, a syndicated newspaper columnist, is in the latter class. Twice a week she grinds out an insipid composition that generally reveals her minuscule range of knowledge. Her primary dubious talent is the “gift of gab.”

Such was typically the case when she produced her essay, “Those ever-evolving creationists” (1999, A-19). The design of this rather meandering discussion was to vent her rage against certain “creationists,” who, occasionally, have altered their modus operandi in attempting to get a “toe in the schoolroom door” in the ongoing discussion regarding human origins. So what!

The fact is, evolutionists have “evolved” their own strategy as well. Charles Darwin, in discussing the difference between the theory of evolution and special creation, said: “I look with confidence to the future, to young and rising naturalists, who will be able to view both sides of the question with impartiality” (1859, 497-98). Dudley Field Malone, one of John Scopes’s attorneys in the famous Dayton, Tennessee evolution trial, pled: “[L]et the children have their minds kept open; shut no door to them” (1991, 187).

But, according to Ellen Goodman—and some of her skeptical kinfolk—nobody has a right to discuss “in the beginning” within the public school format except those who demean the biblical record of origins. The schoolroom door must remain “shut” to creation ideas. Who has changed their tactics? [As an aside, we must mention that even some evolutionists believe that the concept of creation should be given a fair hearing in public schools(see Bird 1989, 8).]

Ms. Goodman’s column was heavily cumbered with misinformation, and not a little absurdity—from “in the beginning” to the conclusion. Consider some of the following matters.

The journalist asserted that in the early part of this century, “creationists dragged a young biology teacher, John Scopes, to the courtroom for the infamous ‘Monkey Trial.’” Is the lady entirely void of any research skills? The Butler Act (which prohibited teaching evolution in Tennessee schools) was the law in 1925. The American Civil Liberties Union wanted to overturn the ordinance, and John Thomas Scopes, a young science teacher and football coach, agreed to be the ACLU’s pawn to challenge the law (though he later suggested that he never actually taught evolution). Scopes thrust himself into the arena; he wasn’t “dragged” anywhere (see Scopes and Presley 1967, 60). There’s no excuse for this sort of shoddy journalism.

There is an interesting historical footnote to the Scopes fiasco. In January of 1925—prior to the trial—Louis T. More, a professor of physics at the University of Cincinnati (himself an evolutionist) gave a devastating critique of the Darwinian theory at Princeton University, highlighting many of its fallacies. The lectures were subsequently published (1925).

Goodman further contends: “There is no serious scientific dispute about the fact of evolution.” In what cave has the dear lady been living? There is a vast controversy over whether or not Darwin’s theory is factual. To not know the facts regarding this, and yet to make such a reckless statement, is the epitome of irresponsibility.

In 1988, the results of a survey were published in the scientific journal Industrial Chemist. Of those responding, 20.6% of the scientists rejected evolution altogether, and more than half (51.7%) felt that human beings could have evolved only if there was some sort of divine intervention (Bible-Science Newsletter 1988, 17). Goodman’s statement, therefore, is but a ploy of psychological intimidation. When you don’t have the facts, merely claim: “There’s no scientific dispute about this.”

Glibly, Ms. Goodman rattles off a list of categories which allegedly provide the substance for evolution—without a solitary “proof,” or rational argument, being introduced along the way. One can’t just scream: “Fossils!” and expect anyone with reasonable intelligence to accept that as argument. No one denies the existence of fossils; but the interpretation of those fossils is disputed aplenty—even among evolutionists. That’s why, for example, Professor Mark Ridley of Oxford University has declared that “no real evolutionist”—of any sort—“uses the fossil record in favour of [evolution] as opposed to special creation” (1981, 831).

And can you imagine anyone being silly enough to cite “carbon dating” as an evidence for evolution? Whatever may be said for, or against, the validity of that dating technique, it bears no relation to a “proof” for evolution. At best it would be simply a measuring device, but certainly not a mechanism for explaining radical change.

Get serious, Ellen! And stick to subjects about which you have at least some knowledge.

[Note: For a more thorough treatment of this subject, see our article, Answering God’s Critic —a response to Professor George Johnson of Washington University.

Sources/Footnotes
  • Bible-Science Newsletter. 1988. June.
  • Bird, W. R. 1989. The Orgigin of Species Revisited. Vol. 1. New York, NY: Philosophical Library, Inc.
  • Darwin, Charles. 1859. The Origin of Species. Sixth edition. London, England: A. L. Burt Co.
  • Goodman, Ellen. 1999. Those ever-evolving creationists. The Boston Globe, August 19.
  • Malone, Dudley Field. 1991. The World’s Most Famous Court Trial – A Complete Stenographic Report. Third edition. Dayton, TN: Rhea County Historical & Genealogical Society.
  • More, Louis T. 1925 The Dogma of Evolution. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Ridley, Mark. 1981. New Scientist, June 25.
  • Scopes, John T. and James Presley. 1967. Center of the Storm: Memoirs of John T. Scopes. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.
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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.